By Edwin Fernandez
COTABATO CITY: Nineteen North Cotabato residents stranded in various areas outside the province due to the lockdowns amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis have arrived home, the province’s Task Force (TF) “Sagip” (Rescue) said Monday.
“There’s no place like home and we are thankful to Governor Nancy Catamco because we are now home,” a statement from the group said.
Recalling their hardships in Davao de Oro where he and four others were stranded during the enhanced community quarantine due to the Covid-19 scare, 66-year-old Pastor Juanito Rivera Guilon said he and his group were elated with Catamco’s “Sagip” program.
“It was difficult. It is another story if we are in our homes. It was a huge sacrifice on our part, but we are very happy we are now home,” said Guilon, who accompanied his brother for a pre-nuptial event in Loreto, Agusan del Sur but was stranded in Davao de Oro following the community quarantine.
The Wesleyan church pastor was one of the 19 Cotabateños stranded due to the Covid-19 lockdown recently implemented in various areas in Mindanao.
The TF “Sagip” guidelines require that all “rescued” Cotabateños will have to undergo another 14-day quarantine before they are allowed to return to their respective towns of origin.
On Monday, they were welcomed by a team of provincial government officials in the borders of Makilala in North Cotabato and Bansalan, Davao del Sur.
With complete documents, including quarantine and health certificates, the returning residents were turned over to their respective local government units (LGUs) for proper intervention and assistance.
The new 14-day quarantine, either in their respective homes or at the facility identified by the LGU, will be strictly observed, officials said.
During the quarantine period, local health care workers will strictly monitor the quarantined persons and provide them with food and other personal items, such as hygiene kits.
Guilon belonged to the first batch (a family of six) who are residents of Kabacan, Cotabato, and five members of another family from Poblacion, Kidapawan City who traveled from the municipality of Loreto and Trento, respectively, both in Agusan del Sur.
Also in the first batch were two laid-off female workers of a call center in Davao City. They were from Tulunan town.
The batch also included a group of seafarers from the towns of Makilala (2), Midsayap (1), Matalam (1), and Pigcawayan (1) and a mother from Midsayap who all arrived at the Davao International Airport on the same day via a “sweeper” flight facilitated by the Department of Transportation and were sent home.
The group was from Clark, Pampanga who also underwent quarantine before their flight.
In coordination with national line agencies, the TF “Sagip” in North Cotabato focuses on helping stranded residents who could not return home due to strict community quarantines in most parts of the country.
To date, some 4,000 individuals consisting of migrant workers, laid-off workers, and stranded tourists and students have registered with TF “Sagip” for a chance to come home soon in the province.